Milk and its Alternatives

The foods in this group play an important role in keeping your bones and teeth healthy.

Milk, yogurt, kefir and enriched soy milk comprise the Milk and Alternatives group in the Diabetes Québec Exchange System[a1] . The foods in this group are an excellent source of calcium and play an important role in keeping your bones and teeth healthy.

Lactose = carbohydrates

Lactose, a sugar naturally present in milk and yogurt, is part of the large family of carbohydrates. Milk and its alternatives also contain protein, fat (in variable amounts), as well as a wide variety of vitamins and minerals.

Given their many health benefits, milk and its alternatives should be included in your diet every day. However, you need to keep track of the amount of carbohydrates in these foods in order to respect the total amount of carbohydrates recommended for your meals and snacks, and to keep proper control of your blood glucose (sugar) levels.

Cheese, contrary to other milk products, is very low in carbohydrates and should be classified for people with diabetes in the Meats and Alternatives group.

The percentage of fat

Because they mainly contain saturated fats , it is preferable to choose milk and milk alternatives that are low in milk fat (M.F.). The general recommendation is milk and yogurt containing 2% M.F. or less.

Tip

Use milk and yogurt as ingredients in your soups, dips or creamy salad dressings.

Servings

1 serving or 12 to 15 g of carbohydrates is about the equivalent of:

  • 250 ml (1 cup or 8 ounces) of milk or enriched soy milk
  • 175 ml (3/4 cup or 175 g) of plain yogurt
  • 175 ml (3/4 cup or 175 g) of fruit yogurt or flavoured yogurt with no added sugar
  • 100 g (100 ml or an individual container) of fruit yogurt or flavoured yogurt

Tip

To familiarize yourself with a suggested serving size, pour it into a measuring cup, then transfer it into the glass or bowl you normally use at home, and note the level of the milk or yogurt.

Fruit yogurt

Fruit yogurt or flavoured yogurt can add variety to your menu. The carbohydrate content of these yogurts is, of course, higher than plain yogurt. In addition to naturally containing lactose, these flavoured yogurts have added sugar.

To obtain the equivalent of a Milk and Alternatives exchange, one serving of yogurt with added sugar will need to be smaller. Thus, a 100 g container (100 ml) of fruit yogurt or flavoured yogurt will provide 12 to 15 g of carbohydrates.

The fruit yogurts or flavoured yogurts sold as fat-free and with no added sugar are sweetened with a sugar substitute like aspartame or sucralose (SplendaTM). In such cases, to obtain the equivalent of a Milk and Alternatives exchange or 12 to 15 g of carbohydrates, you would need to eat two 100 g containers of yogurt (100 ml) or one serving of 175 ml (¾ cup or 175 g).

The best choice, and often the tastiest, is a fruit yogurt that you make at home. Simply mix fresh or frozen fruit into plain yogurt, without adding any additional sugar.

 

Research and text: Diabetes Québec Dietitian Team

June 2014 (updated on July 2018)

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